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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


It's always disheartening to see an actor you love in an uninspired film. Last night, my wife and I rented "500 Days of Summer." Joseph Gordon Levitt became my favorite actor after I witnessed his awe-inspiring performance in "Mysterious Skin." But this little sleeper left much to be desired.

For starters, Zoe Deschenell is cast as the same character she always plays; a free-spirited, fun-loving and somewhat wayward girl, who hides her vulnerability from all but the most privileged of people. Also, the sonorous narrator of the film warns us that this is no love story; it is, and it's one you've seen many times. In many ways, the film seems to be a reworking of "Annie Hall," only with a change in setting. The usual qualms are on the table. Profound questions like, "Is there even such a thing as love?" and "Is Ringo Star the greatest of the Beatles?" Too much name-dropping goes on, by the way. Every five seconds we get a Smiths reference, or a Bergman ode. Think of a pretentious friend who majored in English and is fond of quoting Milton at cocktail parties--me for instance.

Anyway, at the end, there is a hint of hope. The hero, realizing that Deshanel's character (Summer) is a manipulative user, finally ditches her for a better girl with the hysterically-contrived name, Autumn.

Levitt is great as is to be expected. The film, for all its weaknesses, does boast one of the best couple's fights I've seen. Summer doesn't want to "label" the relationship, Levitt, who has grown tired of the irksome play, declares, "I have a say as well, and I say we're a couple goddamn it!" It is a powerful scene, and the only good one the movie has to offer.

The only other strength of the film is Levitt's awesome vintage wardrobe. His outfits are much more inspiring than the script, or the immensely over-the-top soundtrack. Give this one a pass.

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